World No Tobacco Day falls on the 31st May each year and is an opportunity to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use such as lung cancer. The day is also promoting the policies that reduce tobacco consumption.
The effects of tobacco have long been recognized as one of the main causes of cancer in the industrialized world. The rise in lung cancer in particular has been attributed to tobacco use and is one of the most widely known of tobacco’s harmful effects on human health. Worldwide, Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year.1
It’s well known that bad habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or physical inactivity have often been responsible for a rise in cancer cases. Last year, research commissioned by GE Healthcare, revealed the percentage of respondents in selected countries who were aware of the link between bad habits and lung cancer. The responses ranged from 96% in France to 87% in Turkey.
The early and accurate diagnosis of lung cancer is the first step toward optimal patient management and treatment. The main issue is that too many people delay this initial step, patients can go for months or even years without a proper diagnosis.
As proof of this a UK Government TV campaign that urged people with a persistent cough to visit the doctor has increased lung cancer detection rates. The advert, which ran between May and June 2013, aimed to raise awareness of a range of cancers and resulted in around 700 more people diagnosed with the disease compared with the same period in 2012.2
Recently there has been much in the literature about the benefits of early detection and its ability to lower mortality rates, especially in older adults with a high number of pack-years of smoking. The early literature has spawned more studies, which also show the benefits of early detection. As such, policy/reimbursement discussions have ensued. Other studies have shown the benefits of incorporating smoking cessation interventions with early detection.
The studies point to the theory that the earlier a cancer is diagnosed the greater the chance it can be treated successfully. More lives can be saved through prevention of cancer and through earlier detection and better treatment and that is why encouraging people to see their doctor as early as possible is so important.